When Should I Plant Strawberries? Is It Too Late Now?
Growing strawberries can be both fun and rewarding. There’s nothing quite like picking juicy, ripe strawberries from your garden to feed your family, whether as a treat or for making strawberry jam. But, when should you plant your strawberries?
The ideal time to plant strawberries is in the spring once any chance of frost has passed. This will give the plants enough time to grow and produce some lovely fruit that you can enjoy over summer. You can also try different varieties to extend the harvesting season.
Here’s everything you need to know about the right time to plant strawberries.
Hardiness Zones And Planting Times
Ideal strawberry planting times can vary depending on where you live and what your hardiness zone is. In general, the warmer your climate, the earlier you can plant your first crop of strawberries.
Here’s a general guide to the USDA hardiness zones and best planting times for strawberries.
|USDA Hardiness Zone||Strawberry Planting Time||Season|
|Zone 10||December to February||Winter|
|Zone 9||December to February||Winter|
|Zone 8||December to mid-March||Winter to early Spring|
|Zone 7||December to early April||Winter to mid Spring|
|Zone 6||Early March to mid-April||Spring|
|Zone 5||Early April to early May||Mid Spring|
|Zone 4||Early May to mid-May||Late Spring|
|Zone 3||Early May to mid-May||Late Spring|
As you can see, those living in warm zones can start planting their strawberries around December, but people in cold zones will have to wait until early May. Remember that strawberries are regarded as perennials and can be left to grow again over a number of years before the crop starts to decline.
There are also different varieties of strawberries that suit different climatic zones, and that can be planted at different times to extend the harvest time. There are even varieties that will fruit until October for areas with mild temperatures.
Types Of Strawberries And Planting Times
Basically, there are three different classes of strawberry plants. These are June-bearing varieties, everbearing varieties, and day-neutral varieties.
As the name suggests, June-bearing strawberry varieties produce fruit in the month of June. These varieties are extremely popular and are grown by many gardeners around the world. They tend to produce the largest strawberries, but their harvest only lasts for about 2 or 3 weeks. When growing these varieties, it’s important to get the planting time right.
June-bearing strawberries can also further be classified into “early season”, “midseason”, and “late season”. By planting some of each of these successively, you can extend your harvesting time across the entire month.
These strawberry varieties should be planted from late April to early May if you’re using bare-rooted plants. They will only produce one crop a year.
Everbearing strawberry varieties will produce two crops a year, and on rare occasions, they may produce three. Their first harvest is in spring, and then you can harvest more fruit in late summer or early fall. These strawberry plants also put out fewer runners than June-bearing varieties. This is because they put all their energy into producing multiple crops each season.
Everbearing varieties are ideal for people living in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 10 and should be planted in early spring when the ground has thawed out sufficiently.
Day-neutral strawberries will produce a good harvest in the first year that they are planted. They will set fruit when the temperature is between 35 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 29 degrees Celsius). This means that you can get quite a long harvest from these varieties, especially if you live in a milder climate. In fact, in milder areas, day-neutral strawberries have been known to produce fruit well into October.
However, these varieties only produce small to medium-sized fruit compared to June-bearing and Everbearing varieties. Day-neutral strawberries can be planted from December (in warm zones) onward as long as the danger of frost has passed.
Is It Too Late To Plant Strawberries?
Whether it’s too late to plant strawberries depends entirely on where you live and what varieties you want to grow. Obviously, if you want to plant June-bearing varieties, then planting them in June or July is too late, especially if you want a crop that year. For these, you’re better to wait until early next spring to get your bare-rooted plants into the ground.
Also, planting young strawberry plants in the heat of summer can cause a bit of stress for these young plants, and they’re not likely to be very productive in the first year. You’ll get the largest and sweetest strawberries when the plants have had a chance to develop a good strong root system.
However, if you don’t want to harvest in the first year, then you can remove any flowers as they appear, and this will allow the strawberry plants a good chance to establish themselves before the following season. In this case, you could plant as late as June.
But, there are some things you can consider if you’ve missed the optimum planting time for bare-rooted stock.
What Are The Options To Plant Strawberries Late?
If you’re still keen to grow your own strawberries, but you’ve missed the optimum planting time for bare-rooted stock, here are a few options that you can consider.
- Buy established strawberry plants in pots that are already in flower. Pop these into a hanging basket or another type of planting pot. You can easily move these pots around to give your plants the necessary morning sunshine but then give them some shade in the afternoon. Make sure you keep these plants well-watered and provide some liquid fertilizer, and you should be able to harvest sweet, juicy strawberries this season.
- If you have a greenhouse, you can extend the growing season for your strawberries almost indefinitely if you can control the temperature and the amount of light. For this, day-neutral strawberries are usually best because their fruit production depends on temperature, not the amount of sunlight they receive daily. You could even put in some grow lights that will trick the plants into thinking that it’s summer.
- Grow strawberries indoors under a grow light. Strawberries are ideal for growing in pots and will do well indoors if you can give them the right amount of light. Using a grow light is ideal for this. However, make sure your indoor temperature is not too hot or cold if you want to grow strawberries successfully.
- Set up a hydroponic system. Strawberries can be grown hydroponically with a lot of success. In fact, many commercial strawberry growers use hydroponics for their crops. When you master this method of growing, you can have fresh strawberries all year round, even in the middle of winter.
So, as you can see, if you buy established mature strawberry plants and grow them in pots or hanging baskets, it’s never too late to plant strawberries because you’re not planting them in the ground and have the ability to control their growing environment.
However, you will find that nurseries and garden centers will not have out-of-season plants available all year round. So, it may not be too late to grow them, but you may not be able to buy mature plants either.